After extensive laboratory research on glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) as internal reinforcement of concrete, graduate students at the University of Miami are working with Moss Construction Management to substitute steel deck reinforcement with GFRP rebars in the construction of the “Fate Bridge” on campus in an effort to combat future corrosion problems.

To date, GFRP has proven to be an effective internal reinforcement for concrete structures as an alternative to steel due to its magnetic transparency, corrosion resistance, durability, high strength-to-weight-ratio, and life expectancy. GFRP is also about four times lighter than steel.

University of Miami GFRP bridge

GFRP bars, replacing standard steel rebars for concrete reinforcement, have been laid out on the bridge deck. The next step is casting the concrete.

This decreases the amount of labor needed to complete the same tasks in construction sites. This also makes the use of GFRP more advantageous than steel for the bridge project, and it could decrease concrete usage in the future, according to construction manager Kyle Conroy.

“Normally, when you are in a salt water environment, you need to do a lot of concrete coverage so that the bars don’t rust through,” said Conroy. “For the future, GFRP means that we could use less concrete cover.”